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Soccer season was canceled, so why no refunds at one area club?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday he is lifting statewide restrictions on youth sports, but some parents of a local soccer league are concerned why they cannot get a full refund or credit for the missed spring season.

The Jacksonville Football Club told parents in a letter they're not financially capable of issuing full refunds.

“While we are not financially capable of issuing refunds, we have designed a plan for our members to help ensure that the Club can continue to operate as a community resource into the future,” part of the letter reads.

Because of the canceled season, Paula Aldridge was expecting to get her money back. But she learned this week that a full refund is not an option for parents.

"I was pretty shocked,” Aldridge said. “Either 100% full donation or credit towards some training sessions, but they were in the morning and the afternoon, I couldn’t get my daughter there to these sessions because I work.”

The mom, whose daughter plays at Patton Park off Hodges Boulevard, was also surprised the fall credit would only be a one-third of what they paid.

“I could understand maybe giving them $50 and them giving us $100 credit toward the fall, but the way they did it just didn’t seem right".

Jacksonville FC president Chris Dunn said that the group was “saddened” that it wasn’t able to do more for its members during the unprecedented shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the main reason that the club can’t issue full refunds is that expenses continued, but the ability to bring in money through various events has ceased.

While not all players were able to take part in games during the window prior to games being canceled, many competed from August to March in a season that was scheduled to end in May.

“Like many other non-profit organizations locally, Jacksonville FC has experienced a significant impact from the current pandemic. We are saddened that we have not been able to do more for our members during these tough times. The club’s Board Members, who serve as volunteers, have worked extensively with the Executive Director to respond to these financial pressures until we are able to resume operations. A large portion of the club’s expenses are spent well before the end of a season as we incur field maintenance costs and coaching salaries before and during the season, and into the off-season,” he said.

“While expenses such as utilities, leases for equipment, insurance, cancelled travel costs, and other league fees and expenses have continued, we have been unable to hold tournaments, camps, and other fundraising events the club has budgeted as financial resources. Many of our players signed up and played from August to March, over 75% of the season that was slated to end in May. In an effort to ensure our members a return to play, we have offered alternative training options or credits to all impacted players over the summer. As a non-profit — our only goal for the last 40 years has been to provide opportunities for our youth to play soccer in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including giving over $500,000 in soccer scholarships over the last ten years. The words from the Governor and our Mayor are very encouraging as we all want to get the kids off the electronics and back on the fields!”

Here are the options the JFC has listed on its website for recreational and first touch academy players:

Option #1 - Tax Deductible Donation

We urge families to consider the financial implications to our club in regards to refunds and credits as we face these unprecedented circumstances. Families can decide to donate their registration fee to the club as it is tax deductible donation to a 501(c)3 not for profit organization. Doing so will help keep the club in good financial health. We are sure that you are aware we are not exempt from the effects that this global pandemic has caused economically. There are fixed costs associated with running our club, many of them are paid prior to the season commencing. In addition, we are tasked with the challenge of continuing to maintain our facilities and fields during this time away from the game.

Option #2 - Small Group Training

The club will run 4 weeks of Small Group Training sessions in the June/July time frame. Sessions will be in the morning and evening to avoid the peak temperatures. Times and locations to be determined. Each session is valued at $30 each. All spring registered recreational players can attend two sessions per week during the 4 week program at no additional cost, not to exceed 8 sessions. TOTAL VALUE = $240

Option #3 - $50 Credit Fall Recreational & First Touch Academy Season

The recreational player is eligible to receive a $50 credit towards the fall recreational season instead of the above options (only one option may be chosen). TOTAL VALUE = $50

According to the JFC Board of Directors, JFC still had fees to pay before kids even stepped on the field. These fees include, but are not limited to:

  • GotSoccer fees charged at the time your registration is completed
  • Credit Card fees for all payments and payment plans
  • League and Player Fees for FYSA
  • League Fees for NFYSL for players on U13-U19 Rec Teams
  • Insurance cost — we are required to pay for insurance for every player
  • Administrative costs associated with getting your child placed on a team, listed on an official roster and issuing a player pass
  • Background checks and concussion testing for all staff, including your coaches
  • The cost for staff to supervise the parks during the first 2-3 weeks of training
  • Field maintenance and utilities, although we are a city park

The organization also did not provide an exact cost breakdown of fees. The business manager for JFC told Aldridge in an email that some of those fees are for registration, player fees, insurance, staff testing and field maintenance.

JFC said in a letter to members that all of the donated funds will be used to continue its scholarship program for players.

A letter from the Jacksonville Football Club to members.
A letter from the Jacksonville Football Club to members.

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